NASHVILLE, Tenn. — ESPN's Jon Gruden was high on Marcus Mariota when he entered the NFL Draft, and he expects big things for the Titans quarterback in the future.
Gruden also sees a whole lot of potential in University of Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs.
"The only thing (Mariota) hasn't been able to do, in my opinion, is stay healthy and that is a challenge he has to meet, and I hope he does that," Gruden said Wednesday. "But as they continue to improve that roster I suspect he will continue to improve.
"I think he can be a great, front-line Pro Bowl quarterback in the league, I don't have any doubts about that if he can stay healthy and they can add a few pieces to their receiving corps. He just has all the intangibles and all the qualities I am looking for personally."
As for Dobbs, Gruden said he's an intriguing prospect.
"I would love to get my hands on him,'' Gruden said. "He, to me, is a great sleeper in this draft."
Gruden, a Super Bowl-winning coach with the Buccaneers, spent time with Mariota during his annual quarterback camp leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft. Gruden also spent time with Dobbs during the QB Camp this year.
Gruden made his comments on a conference call Wednesday morning leading up to next week's NFL Draft.
In his second NFL season, Mariota completed 276-of-451 passes for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 95.6 passer in 2016 before suffering a fractured fibula in a Week 16 contest at Jacksonville. The quarterback added 60 rushing attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns. Mariota's 2015 season was cut short because of a knee injury.
Mariota would've played in the Pro Bowl this past season if he hadn't suffered the injury.
Dobbs completed 202 of 319 passes for 2,655 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2016 for the Vols. He also rushed for a UT quarterback-record 713 yards and nine touchdowns. Dobbs led the SEC in touchdown passes (26) and passer efficiency (152.6) while ranking fourth in the SEC in passing yards (2,655).
"He played in an offense where there wasn't a lot of pure drop-backs,'' Gruden said of Dobbs. "He was a running quarterback and he has over 400 attempts rushing. He ran for over 2,000 yards in the SEC. But if you watch the second half of the Florida game, watch the Nebraska game in the bowl game, you see passing ability. I think he … stood out at the Senior Bowl as a guy who could make a quick transition.
"This kid is smart, he loves it, and he'll be a quick study. And his athleticism is going to be hard to keep off the field. This guy has the heart of a champion. I really like Dobbs a lot, and hopefully somebody with a real creative mind gets him."
TitansOnline.com looks back at some of the team's #1 draft picks over the years. (AP Photos)